Safa sells Bafana for R1 billion

2014-08-03 15:00

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The SA Football Association (Safa) has signed a ground-breaking R1 billion broadcast deal with new kid on the block Siyaya TV.

Just as in 2006, when SuperSport signed a R1.6 billion deal with the Premier Soccer League, this development leaves public broadcaster the SABC out in the cold, since it will have to buy the rights from Siyaya if it wants a slice of Bafana Bafana.

The deal gives Siyaya TV the rights to broadcast all Bafana Bafana and Banyana Banyana matches, including friendlies, as well as games involving all the junior national teams, the ABC Motsepe League (First Division), Sasol Women’s League, the Safa Magazine Programme (Safa TV) and the annual Safa Awards.

In return, the football body will help the consortium secure more events from Fifa, the Confederation of African Football and the Union of European Football Associations (Uefa).

Siyaya TV expects to go live next June, and the deal kicks in on May 1 next year because the SABC agreement lapses at the end of April 2015.

The six-year partnership will see Safa bag R175 million per annum, a significant jump from the R17 million it was getting from the SABC and the R25 million it received from SuperSport.

Safa has already been paid R25 million by Siyaya.

Siyaya TV is a 100% black-owned consortium in which the rural North West community of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela owns a 40% stake. Former Post Office CEO Vuyo Mahlati is the chairperson and former SABC 2 general manager Thandi Ramathesele the CEO.

Kgosi Nyalala Pilane of the Bakgatla is deputy chairperson. Other shareholders are Transnet Freight CEO Siyabonga Gama, Siyaya TV board member Aubrey Tau and TV personality Dali Tambo.

Gama told City Press yesterday that although he was a founding member of Siyaya, he did not sit on the board and only held “a minimal share” through the Pitikeza Family Trust.

Tau, a former Moroka Swallows public relations officer and owner of Soccer Africa TV, which held the rights to the MTN CAF Awards, is the driving force behind the deal.

Siyaya was formed in 2009 and aims to be a major player on the digital terrestrial television platform. Its main target is 30-year-old black South Africans with a monthly household income of between R4 000 and R10 000.

In its submission to regulator Icasa, Siyaya said it would charge a “competitive” monthly subscription of R70 to issue viewers with affordable set-top boxes.

Safa sent a letter of support to Icasa on July 12.

The deal was approved by a 95% vote of the Safa national executive committee, based on a recommendation by its auditors, Ernst & Young. Safa also brought in a broadcast lawyer to ensure that all risks are “adequately mitigated” and that “the association’s intellectual property rights are fully protected”.

The deal is set to cause a stir. The government has previously insisted that Bafana’s matches – “a national asset” – be shown by the public broadcaster.

Safa has in the past complained that these stringent measures restricted its money-making ability, especially when compared with other sporting codes like rugby and cricket.

Safa CEO Dennis Mumble said: “Yes, we have signed a new major broadcast deal and have informed the SABC. Unfortunately, that’s all I can say, as we will be making an official announcement soon.”

Kgosi Pilane would also not comment, saying only the consortium was expecting Icasa to issue it with a licence. “We have given them all the outstanding documents they asked for after granting us a provisional licence.”

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said: “I’m not aware of [the deal], but I will check with our head of sport.”

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